Online Customer Service-An Oxymoron?

Online customer service is not as hard as you think. It’s not quite as simple as smiling when someone enters a retail store, but you certainly can convey that your business is focused on meeting customer needs.

Websites have been around long enough that it’s easy to compare and see which ones make it easy to do business and which are causing their customers grief. Try it yourself. Go to a few sites you have never visited before and see how easy it is to locate specific information. Then go to a few of the rock star online retailers and see how they do the job.

There are a lot of rules to good online customer service. Here are a couple of my favourites.

  1. First stop, create a site that is easy to use. And I don’t mean easy for you or your coder. I mean it needs to be dead easy for your site visitors to use. Frankly, even if you’re the one building it, your opinion doesn’t matter nearly as much as your prospective visitors’ needs do.
  2. Make sure there is a way to contact your company available from the home page and every other page in the site. And don’t bury it in text at the bottom! Make it bright yellow if you have to, but make it stand out. Often this is done somewhere in the top right quadrant of the page and many site visitors look here first.
  3. If you’re selling online, let people know the price before they input their personal information. Would you pull out your credit card and ring through a purchase before you know the price in a bricks and mortar store? Many site visitors will opt out of the selling process if they have to provide their personal data before seeing the full price of the product, including shipping.

In a nutshell, make it easy and you’re more likely to make the sale.

Serve your clients, no matter what they need

Over the last two days I attended a self-employment workshop at the Sunshine Coast Employment Center, offered by Cassandra Gierden of Prophet Coaching. A valuable idea she offered was to create your own personal “yellow pages” – get out and meet somebody from every possible profession you can think of.

The idea is to be of service to your clients no matter what they need. If they can’t make an appointment with you, don’t just ask to reschedule. Ask them if they need a mechanic and refer them to a great one.

You can make the creation of your yellow pages like a scavenger hunt for yourself: find X contacts by X time.

The concept of serving your clients, no matter the need, is similar to what this blog and indeed many successful sites are all about. Share a little information or service for free, and you become a valuable resource that stays top-of-mind. In the end isn’t that what marketing is all about?